Just 33 percent said they had a “fair amount” of trust in mass media such as newspapers, TV and radio, and only 7 percent had a “great deal” of trust and confidence that the mass media reports the news, according to a Gallup poll released this week.
Ten years ago, Gallup found an even split of 50/50 among Americans regarding their trust and lack of trust of the media. According to their poll results, the last time the majority of Americans trusted their media was 1976.
“Americans' trust level in the media has drifted downward over the past decade…Some of the loss in trust may have been self-inflicted,” wrote Rebecca Riffkin, a Gallup analyst, in a statement.
“Major venerable news organizations have been caught making serious mistakes in the past several years, including the scandal involving former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams in 2015 that some of his firsthand accounts of news events had been exaggerated or ‘misremembered.’”
Other mass media scandals that violated public trust include the inaccuracy of stories on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, such as those that Judith Miller wrote for The New York Times in the lead-up to Iraq war. Jayson Blair, also of the NY Times, plagiarized and fabricated facts in at least 36 articles, something that led to his firing and to the resignation of an editor and manager at the newspaper. There were also revelations in 2003 that the Bush administration paid columnists to promote its policies.
The new poll was conducted as a telephone survey over five days, from September 9 to 13, with over 1,000 adults from 50 US states and the District of Columbia.